2020: A Lesson in Gratitude
Topping the List of Things to Be Grateful For: 2020 Is Almost Over
By: Melissa Lagowski
Big Buzz Idea Group
In looking back over the course of the year, it’s clear we can find plenty of negativity as reasons to be disappointed and discouraged. Yes, 2020 taught us many lessons about ourselves, our goals, our economy, our leaders, and the fact that life as we know it can change in an instant.
But it’s from these same lessons that we can learn, adapt and progress. And be grateful.
It is vital to our mindset and our wellbeing that we dig through the madness and find ways to be grateful. Despite all the problems big and small, and all the negativity that exploded into our daily lives, wave after wave, the only way to stay sane and healthy and focused on the future is to intentionally practice gratitude regularly.
If you aren’t already in the practice of taking time every day to find the things to be thankful for, then you are doing yourself – not to mention your family and your work partners – a disservice. We’ve stressed this point several times before: set aside a specific time each day to focus like a laser beam to reflect and give thanks for all the things you have, the people you love, the gifts and treasures you experience each day. Why is there a need to do this? Because focusing for a moment on gratitude trains your brain and your heart to find a needle of positivity among the haystack of negativity. And all those little things we are grateful for will start to add up and shrink the relevance of all the big, bad things that tend to happen.
The evidence clearly shows the connection between positivity and good health. Numerous studies confirm that practicing gratitude can lead to improved relationships, enhanced physical health, better sleep, less depression, more motivation and engagement, and better overall mental health and wellbeing. If it came in a pill, we’d gladly spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year for something so simple and attainable!
We have had eight months of really hard work, desperate measures, and difficult transitions. As individuals and as a community, the changes we’ve faced have been physically and mentally challenging, sometimes to the point of breaking. So, the importance of positivity and self-care cannot be denied. And the best medicine – besides laughter – is gratitude.
Seek positivity hidden under all the negativity. Be grateful for each day, for good health, family, friends, co-workers and the kindness of strangers. Be thankful for the tough lessons learned this year, for the technology that allows work-from-home, for the (mandatory) extra time with your spouse and kids. Count all the small ways that a loving family brings joy to your world and appreciate all the little things so you can overcome the bigger things.
Recognize the contributions of your board in strategic planning and creativity to rise above and transition toward new success. Appreciate the work of your staff for all their help throughout the pivot and for the continuation of providing valuable services and programming to those who need it most. And don’t forget that the positive change you make in the world is so very important to someone else.
There are so many things to be thankful for, yet we rarely acknowledge any of them; we don’t even realize that we’re gifted with an abundance of blessings simply because we take so many things for granted. That’s why it takes a bit of effort, at first, to start working those unused muscles and list all the good things that we have, hear, see and feel throughout the day. Being aware and thankful for all these positive experiences that we usually take for granted will brighten the mood, lift the spirit, and refresh the soul. Practice it daily for a few weeks and the people around you will start to see a whole new person!
Once we make it a daily habit to find and hone in on the positivity that exists in the midst of all the chaotic negativity, it actually becomes easier to recognize and appreciate all the things that bring joy and satisfaction. Rather than forcing ourselves to struggle and tolerate all the garbage, we must commit to finding the happiness and fulfillment that has been hiding in plain sight. If we open our eyes and minds to positivity, we can recognize the smallest joys and littlest wonders that are abundant in life. (And yes, sometimes it can be as simple as enjoying a morning coffee or noticing that the sun is shining.) Be grateful for all of them. It may be surprising or even overwhelming to notice all the good within the mundane, but it will help to drown out the destructive negativity that harms us.
This is a reminder to take your medicine regularly throughout the day. Focus on the positive to diminish the negative. Find the beauty that surrounds you, the love that warms you, the friendships that support you, the happiness that tickles you, the calming peace that nurtures you. With November being the month of looking back and giving thanks, we also look forward to the future with gratitude.